Seeking an Aurora: A Wondrous Illustrated Celebration of Earth’s Most Otherworldly Spectacle of Light and Color

Couple Seeking an Aurora with the inspiring picture-book bio of trailblazing astronomer Maria Mitchell, then revisit a literary titans account of the other excellent cosmic phenomenon visible from Earth– Virginia Woolfs arresting meditation on the overall solar eclipse.

They stroll with vigorous excitation across the open field and through the skeletal trees as the warm humankind of their breath puffs into the cold night air, into the silence they share with the other breathing creatures that make this world a world.

As the pair ascend the high hill towards their lookout, the cows and the canines recede into the range, leaving just the stars, the Moon, and the swell of anticipation.

Outdoors whatever was still.Even the pets were quiet, and the cows looked like prehistoric animals, their noses streaming smoke.

Illustrations thanks to Blue Dot Kids Press; photos by Maria Popova.

The experience unfolds from the narrative viewpoint of the child, who turns around to look back at your house with its “warm, buttery light spilling from the kitchen window,” back at the two sets of “footprints in the silvery frost,” then up at the sky, “a ship of shivering stars.”.

In 1621, currently questioning his life in the priesthood– the periods best and most reputable profession for the informed– the 29-year-old Pierre Gassendi, a mathematical prodigy because childhood, traveled to the Arctic circle as he started diverting his enthusiastic erudition toward Aristotelian viewpoint and astronomy. There, under the polar skies, he saw an otherworldly phenomenon on Earth– our worlds most intimate and remarkable contact with its house star, a chromatic swirl of the ephemeral and the eternal unloosed as solar winds blow millions of charged particles from the Sun across the orrery of the Solar System and into Earths atmosphere, where our magnetic fields carry them toward the poles. As they clash with the particles of various atmospheric gasses, they ionize and release energy as photons of various colors– red, blue, green, and violent– painting the nocturne with the waking dream of a pastel-technicolor dawn.

On the walk home, back to your home with the warm buttery light, the dad shares whatever he knows about the aurora– a secret everythingness revealed on the last page of the book, in a short science primer of an afterword, sweetly entitled “Everything Dad Knew about the Aurora.”.

And after that, unexpectedly, the aurora appears, its “wide wings of light” sweeping throughout the sky to broaden the kids eyes with wonder.

Father and kid are silent under the soft technicolor sky– a blown away silence that stimulates the works of the poet Diane Ackerman, who wrote long earlier in her sensational Cosmic Pastoral of sensation “stricken by the ricochet wonder of everything: the plain everythingness of everything, in cahoots with the everythingness of whatever else.”.

Awestruck with the natural poetry and the mythic feeling-tone of the luminous spectacle, Gassendi named what he saw Aurora borealis– after Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn, and borealis, the Latin word for “northern.” Ultimately, as explorers braved the icy oceanic expanses to go to the polar areas of the Southern hemisphere over the following centuries, they adjusted Gassendis etymology to call the Antarctic version of the luminescent screen Aurora australis, after the Latin word for “southern.”.

In 1621, currently questioning his life in the priesthood– the ages most safe and most trusted profession for the informed– the 29-year-old Pierre Gassendi, a mathematical prodigy given that youth, traveled to the Arctic circle as he began diverting his passionate erudition towards Aristotelian approach and astronomy. There, under the polar skies, he experienced a transcendent spectacle in the world– our planets most intimate and dramatic contact with its house star, a chromatic swirl of the ephemeral and the eternal unloosed as solar winds blow millions of charged particles from the Sun across the orrery of the Planetary system and into Earths environment, where our magnetic fields bring them toward the poles. As they clash with the particles of various atmospheric gasses, they discharge and ionize energy as photons of various colors– red, blue, green, and violent– painting the nocturne with the waking dream of a pastel-technicolor dawn.

Dancing light, glimmering and radiant, glittering and shining.Colored ribbons swirling and twirling, illuminating the sky on the still, dark night.

From the land of Aurora australis comes Seeking an Aurora (public library)– a work of transcendence and inflammation by New Zealand author-artist duo Elizabeth Pulford and Anne Bannock, whose spare poetic prose and soulful paintings interleave to enlush an inner landscape of marvel, suspended in between the creaturely and the cosmic.

Late one night, a daddy awakens his kid– a child of ambiguous gender and ethnicity, a touching effort to approximate the universal in the human– to slip out of your home together, past the peacefully sleeping mother and the infant in the baby crib, and out into the winter nocturne on a quest of wonder.